11 tips for stress-free holidays
Holidays are meant to be fun. Especially the Christmas season. But more often than not, juggling home, work and holiday preparation is a mountain most people would rather not climb. And every year, these same people probably vow that next year will be different. Well, believe it or not, the holidays can be stress-free. But even that requires a little work. Here are some tips to help you cruise into Christmas.
1 Be organized
Make lists for groceries, people to shop for, cards to write, decorations to buy. Sit down with a calendar and give yourself target dates for getting things done. It will make a manic month more sane. To make sure you don't forget anything or anyone, you can even find suggested holiday planning guides online.
2 Less is more
This doesn't mean skimp. But simple decorations can speak volumes more than a room crowded with all kinds of knick-knacks. When it comes to menu-planning, don't get too ambitious. Choose recipes that are tried and true to avoid the stress of an uncertain outcome. And given that most people complain about overeating during the holidays, a small selection of quality eats will likely be perfect.
3 Leave the cooking to someone else
When you're cooking for a crowd, it's not only time-consuming, but often pretty pricey. Alternatively, look into catering services. A caterer may cost the same as buying all the ingredients yourself. And even if it's a little more expensive, it may be worth the time and headache you save.
4 Share hosting responsibilities
Given the abundance of holiday parties and the inevitable conflicts in peoples' schedules, cohost a party with a friend. It's one engagement for your friends instead of two, and it'll cut your stress in half.
5 Make things ahead of time
Choose menu items that can be frozen until the day you need them. This will cut down on the number of things you need to do on the day of your event.
Image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma
6 Ye olde cookie exchange
Organize a group of friends and have everyone make two to three dozen of their favourite holiday cookie, bar or square. Then get together and swap so everyone has a little of each. It saves you hours in the kitchen and comes in handy when people drop by unexpectedly. A few samples wrapped in cellophane also make great hostess gifts.
7 Festive-coloured potpourri
It's an easy design accent and can make the house smell like someone's always baking. If you're not into potpourri, scented candles, oils or incense will do the same. And when you feel the holiday stress taking hold, stop and take a deep breath. Warm scents like lavender or cinnamon will relax you.
8 Easy decorations
You'll find an abundance of Christmas decorations in the stores. But often the most elegant and effective are those you make yourself. And you can get the kids to help. Use branches, leaves, acorns and berries from your backyard to create centrepieces or festive confetti that can be strewn across mantles and tables.
9 Colourful creations
Buy a few yards of fabric in rich colours or textures and use them as table runners or chair covers. Patterned ribbons are also an inexpensive way to dress up candle holders and serving utensils. Or use them as festive napkin holders.
10 Get help with the housework
If you haven't got one already, the holiday season is a good time for a cleaning service. If you do have one, you may want to book them for an extra visit.
11 Involve the kids
They can help decorate -- everything from rooms to cookies. So even if they're in the way, they're helping you get the job done.
Image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma